During my extensive research for the interview I was also delighted to find that Ola had written other things than rock music. In 2007 he released a 15-minute symphony to the honour of famous botanist Carl von Linné, made on commission from his home-town of Växjö. One of the demands he made to write this symphony was that another Växjö celebrity, concert pianist Per Tengstrand would play the piano part. I really liked that symphony. It wasn’t Mozart standard but still, what a bold move from a rock musician. And even more I liked that pianist. I had, of course forgotten all about that progidy kid with Rondo Alla Turca by then, he reminded me about it much later. I just got intrigued by this perfect piano technique, so clear and confident. Here I let the clip begin with the piano solo part.
Not much later I listened to a recording he had made of the “Elvira Madigan” concerto and then I fell in love for real. This piano concerto has always had a special place in my heart, it has a certain soothing effect on me. I once told my mother how much I loved it, and she replied: “well, I used to listen and relax to it a lot when I was pregnant”. So, I had enjoyed this lovely Mozart work even before I was born, maybe that explained it.
Per had the right approach to this concert. It was full of life, not over sentimental and yet soft and sensitive, in my opinion. And still that very clear, precise technique without “slipping” over the keys, definitely my cup of tea. Although I knew nothing about this guy – or so I thought – I immediately knew this: that was how you should play the piano!
In April 2008 Ola and Per united for a cross-over concert, gathering both fans of The Ark as well as fans of classical music. There I was, actually in both camps. No – I hereby must confess that I went there mostly for the piano. No matter how good Ola and The Ark were, I had got very tired of rock band fan life. (Not that I had been to many concerts myself, actually, but together with the interview research it had been an exhausting experience.) It is fun for a while, but there are many ingredients in it that are not very pleasant. I had booked that concert even before I knew Ola was to join in, because I was in desperate need of getting away from home for a little while, and I thought this could be the perfect little excursion. The winter was cold and snowy, I felt slightly imprisoned in my own home. Now, I decided to go on a concert trip, on my own, and my husband was very supportive and encouraging. This would be my little escape, for once. And my goal was the not very exciting little town of Växjö in the middle of Småland county, and a piano festival … The whole idea was so out of fashion that it was amusing.
So I bought the ticket and planned the trip with the triumphant feeling of doing something I wanted to do, without asking the trend gurus whether this was cool or not. But then Ola joined the festival too. Suddenly “everyone” was going there, so it became a bit more mainstream than I had planned, but … this journey turned out to be one of the best ideas I have ever got, and it certainly marked the beginning of a whole new chapter in my life.
Anyway, so there I was, in the Concert Hall of Växjö … According to the concert program, Per would start with “Funerailles” by Liszt. I had not heard it before, but the name Liszt immediately gave me the association to the famous Liebestraum piece, which is one of my big favourites. I thought “if only he could have played Liebestraum instead, but ok. This Funere… Funerai … oh, whatever, it will be fine too.”
Then, at the concert, the miracle happened. Per made a change in the program in the very last minute, I don’t know why, but he entered the stage and announced that he, instead of Funerailles, would play – Liebestraum!
I was shocked, but I was also so happy that I got tears in my eyes. To me, it was like coming home. After all, it was decades since I had been to a classical concert! How nice it was to sit comfortably in a chair, to close my eyes and just listen to one of the most beautiful pieces I knew, instead of doing the rock concert routine with queues in, queues out, queues to the overpriced hotdogs, queues to the outdoor toilets, harsh guards, earplugs … To quote The Ark’s most famous hit: “It takes a fool to remain sane” – this phrase is particularly true on rock festivals.
No, this was so much nicer. It was civilized, all I had to do was to enjoy. And this piano playing awoke so many memories of piano concerts I had been to in the past, so very long ago. Concerts with Staffan Scheja, Hans Leygraf, Hans Pålsson, Lars Roos and many more, all of them very renowned pianists. A whole life ago … Suddenly I remembered them all.
In the middle of this dreamy nostalgia I recalled that I actually had been playing the piano myself once. And that I, however incredible it seemed, had managed to forget it.